Iron Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Has your doctor ever told you that you need a second blood analysis because you seem to have low red blood cell levels? If so, you could have an iron deficiency – or worse still, anaemia (1). Red blood cells are in charge of transporting oxygen throughout your body. And what happens if there’s not enough oxygen? You’ll feel tired and weak!

Weakness, pallid skin, and fragile, breakable nails are some of the symptoms which can give reason to suspect the onset of anaemia. This is especially true if you’re a woman. Why women? Because of blood loss during your period, for example, though men are not free from the risk of iron deficiency. This article will delve deeper into iron deficiency symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

Key Facts

  • Did you know that the symptoms of iron deficiency can pass unnoticed? Generally, they’re discovered during routine blood draws.
  • More serious signs may include weakness, headaches, sensitivity to cold temperatures, reduced ability for physical labour, and poor immune system functioning.
  • In these situations, you can change your diet or – better still – opt for Sundt Nutrition liposomal iron supplements. You’ll adore them once you give them a try!

Iron Deficiency: What You Need to Know

Are you familiar with the symptoms iron deficiency causes? What about its consequences? We’ve designed this section to familiarise you with iron deficiency from top to bottom, included recommended daily iron intake. Would you like to learn more? Follow us – you won’t regret it.

What Are the First Symptoms of Iron Deficiency?

Iron is fundamental for the growth of your cells. In spite of this, it’s estimated that approximately 3.5 million people around the world have an iron deficiency (2). A surprising number? Often the iron deficiency is mild, but symptoms worsen as iron reserves are further depleted. These symptoms may include (1, 2, 3, 7):

  • Brittle nails. Often referred to as “spoon-shaped nails”.
  • Sores at the corners of your mouth.
  • Pallidity. Abnormally pale skin.
  • Swollen tongue. Tongue may be inflamed and even painful.
  • Fatigue. In other words, unusual tiredness and weakness when doing normal activities.
  • Cold extremities. Chilly feet and hands.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Headaches. May also include dizziness and vertigo.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Chest pain. Can evolve into something more serious.

Generally, initial symptoms can pass unnoticed. In developed countries, iron deficiency tends to be discovered in routine blood draws.

Brittle nails are one of the symptoms of iron deficiency. (Source: Gugleta: XcW2nkj9nPg-/ Unsplash.com)

What Happens If Iron Deficiency Goes Untreated?

If you cannot correct your iron deficiency, it can worsen, causing other symptoms to appear:

  • Tachycardia. This refers to rapid heart rate or shortness of breath. This is a sign of more severe iron deficiency.
  • Restless leg syndrome. The need to move your legs while you’re in bed.
  • Pica. This unusual symptom refers to abnormal appetite for or cravings for inedible objects – ice, dirt, paint, or even the lime on walls.
  • Lack of appetite. Especially in infants and children with ferropenic anaemia (iron deficiency anaemia).

More serious symptoms include exhaustion from regular activity, weakness, headaches, apathy, pale skin, sensitivity to cold temperatures, reduced capacity for physical labour, and poor immune system functioning.

What Causes Iron Deficiency?

When your body lacks sufficient iron, iron deficiency anaemia is the result. Mild or moderate anaemia tends not to manifest symptoms. As the anaemia becomes more severe, however, you may observe fatigue, difficulty breathing, or chest pain. Anaemia can result from a series of causes we’ll summarise in this table (2, 4):

Cause of Anaemia Examples
Higher-Than-Average Blood Loss 1. Serious, sudden blood loss 
2. Chronic or “hidden” blood loss (menstruation, internal inflammation, and serious conditions like cancer and blood-related diseases) 
3. Blood donation (2+ times for women and 3+ times for men) 
Reduced Iron in Your Diet 1. Vegetarian or vegan diet
2. Malnutrition
3. Dementia and mental illness
Reduced Iron Absorption 1. Antacid medications or problems with stomach acid
2. Coeliac disease
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Increased Need for Iron Pregnancy and breastfeeding

What Are the Consequences of Iron Deficiency?

Iron deficiency’s consequences on your body can have a large impact on your day-to-life, as you’ll see in this list (5, 6, 8):

  • Workplace issues. Lower performance.
  • Infections. Higher odds of contracting infections, especially respiratory infections.
  • Risky pregnancy and labour. Increased risk of: death during pregnancy and labour, low birth weight, premature birth, and potential future learning disabilities in the child.

In fact, one study in India of both anaemic and non-anaemic teenage girls discovered that school performance was lower in girls with iron deficiency than in girls without it.

Pregnant women who take iron supplements should do so with professional oversight. (Source: Hecker: wqcQ6ODwPxU/ Unsplash.com)

Who’s at Risk for Iron Deficiency?

There’s a wide range of risk factors, but specific conditions raise the odds of suffering from iron deficiency (2, 7):

Age

Here we’re including babies from 6 to 12 months, especially if they exclusively drink breast milk or formula (unless formula is iron-enriched). This also includes 1- to 2-year-old children, especially if they drink lots of cow’s milk which is low in iron. Finally, adolescents are at risk because of their rapid growth spurts.

Unhealthy Environments

This includes children with lead in their bloodstream from their environment or water supply. Lead interferes with your body’s ability to produce haemoglobin.

Family and Genetic History

In this group, we’re including people with haemophilia (a condition which causes trouble forming blood clots) and female symptomatic carriers with heavy menstrual flow.

Lifestyle Habits

This includes people on vegan or vegetarian diets, frequent blood donors, and people who practice resistance workouts.

Gender

For example, women and girls require more iron than average from age 14 to 50. They have higher risks of anaemia due to menstruation, pregnancy, labour, and breastfeeding.

Vegans and young athletes are examples of people who could suffer anaemia’s unpleasant consequences if they don’t balance their metabolism of this mineral with an appropriate diet. Iron supplements can be of great help for these people. (Source: Drobot: 38794415/ 123rf.com)

What’s the Daily Recommended Dosage of Iron?

Do you think you get enough iron on a daily basis? We’ll find out with this table, which distinguishes between genders, ages, and other factors like pregnancy (2, 9).

Age Modifying Factor Milligrams Iron Per Day (For Men) Milligrams Iron Per Day (For Women)
0-6 months   4.3 4.3
7 months to 5 years old   8 8
6-9 years old   10 10
10-13 years old   11 15
14-19 years old   11 15
20-29 years old   9.1 18
30-39 years old   9.1 18
40-49 years old   9.1 18
50-59 years old   9.1 15
60-69 years old   9.1 9
70+   9.1 9
  Pregnancy   27
  Breastfeeding   15

Iron Deficiency Treatment and Prevention

Is it clear to you that you have low iron levels? What do you plan to do about it? You could improve your diet or take liposomal supplements. Are you unfamiliar with the term “liposomal”? It’s a new way of formulating medications and supplements which we know you’ll love. We’ll explore how it increases your iron levels, so read on!

Changing Your Eating Habits

You can always modify your diet if your hectic daily life allows it. You can easily learn which meat, fish, and shellfish contain the most iron. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, however, you should incorporate food with vitamin C. Why vitamin C? Because it enhances the body’s iron absorption (13, 14, 15).

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, also keep in mind that the amount of iron absorbed will vary according to the food’s bioavailability. Therefore, we’ve summarised a series of eating habits according to the iron’s availability and absorption:

  • High Absorption: You’ll absorb 15 to 20% of the iron contained in your food if you have a varied diet which includes vitamin C and animal products.
  • Medium Absorption: You’ll absorb 10% of your food’s iron on average when your diet includes grains, root vegetables, and tubers (like potatoes).
  • Low Absorption: You’ll absorb only 5% of iron from a diet rich in grains, root vegetables, and tubers if it’s lacking in vitamin C or animal products.
Vegans and vegetarians must incorporate plenty of iron-rich foods into their diet and combine them with substances that increase iron absorption, like vitamin C. (Source: Dubler: T_dY6AzzVXU/ Unsplash.com)

Liposomal Supplements

Most traditional iron supplements cause indigestion, but that doesn’t apply to Sundt Nutrition liposomal iron supplements. Why? Because they make use of liposomes so nutrients can enter your body safely. What exactly are liposomes, you’re asking? We’ll explain! (10, 11, 12)

What Are Liposomes

Liposomes are a sort of “bubble” which closely resemble our own cells and pertain to the nanotechnology field of study. That’s right, nanotechnology! It’s cutting-edge tech which has been successfully applied to both pharmaceutical drugs and dietary supplements to transport substances in the body.

What Are the Advantages of Liposomal Formulas?

Their greatest achievement is allowing the intestines to absorb nutrients and medications more effectively by encapsulating them in liposomes. In other words, iron travels through the body wrapped inside these “bubbles”.

Why Are Liposomes More Effective?

Because liposomes increase the bioavailability of nutrients like iron.

And What’s Bioavailability?

It refers to the percentage of nutrients which reach their objective in your body. With liposomes, bioavailability is higher and nutrients also reach their destination more quickly. As a result, they greatly outperform traditional iron supplements which tend to cause indigestion.

Did you know that iron is lost through your skin, stomach, urine, and sweat? (Source: Catalog: 23KdVfc395A/ Unsplash.com)

So I Won’t Have Stomach Problems with Liposomal Iron Supplements?

We can finally say that iron supplements won’t bother you! When liposomes cover the iron, they protect the intestines and allow the iron to reach their destination at top speed. They’re technological advances applied to your health!

What’s the Difference Between Conventional Iron Supplements and Sundt Nutrition’s?

You’ll get more with less. In reality, Sundt Nutrition supplements are cheaper in the long run than traditional products. That’s because of their outstanding cost-to-performance ratio, making them more efficient with the amount of nutrients they provide. Plus, they’re appropriate for even the most special cases.

Are Sundt Nutrition Iron Supplements Vegan-Friendly?

And how! They’re safe for vegans and vegetarians alike. On top of containing no ingredients from animal sources, they also contain no GMOs or fragrances. Plus, they include vitamin C!

Is Vitamin C Important for Liposomal Iron Supplements?

Of course! Vitamin C enhances and increases absorption of non-heme iron (the iron found in plants as opposed to meat, fish, or shellfish). Plus, your body’s immune defences will be boosted right away. Once you try liposomal supplements, you won’t want any others!

Our Conclusions

You’ve surely realised that iron deficiency is no joke. As such, you could change your eating habits immediately or rely on a much simpler solution: Sundt Nutrition iron supplements. We’ve made sure that when you try them, you’ll be more than satisfied!

Why do we say that? Because you won’t have to balance tricky combinations of eating habits to make sure your body gets enough of this nutrient. Sundt Nutrition liposomal supplements ensure higher bioavailability and are vegan-friendly!

If you’ve enjoyed this article, feel free to share it or leave us a comment. We love to hear from you!

References (15)

1. Iron deficiency anemia. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH).
Source

2. Individualized treatment of iron deficiency anemia in adults. Michael Alleyne, MD, McDonald K. Horne, MD, and Jeffery L. Miller, MD. Disponible online
Source

3. Iron deficiency anemia. Mayo Clinic. Disponible online
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4. The central role of iron in human nutrition: from folk to contemporary medicine by Matteo Briguglio, Silvana Hrelia, Marco Malaguti, Giovanni Lombardi, Patrizia Riso, Marisa Porrini, Paolo Perazzo and Giuseppe Banfi. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061761. Disponible online
Source

5. Iron deficiency: causes, consequences and strategies to overcome this nutritional problem. José R Boccio, Venkatesh Iyengar. DOI: 10.1385 / BTER: 94: 1: 1. Disponible online
Source

6. Effects of iron deficiency on cognitive function in school-going adolescent women in rural central India. Sarika Más,V. B. Shivkumar, Nitin Gangane y Sumeet Shende.
Source

7. Iron deficiency anemia. LibreTexts; Medicine. Disponible online
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8. Consecuencias de la deficiencia de hierro. Manuel Olivares G, Tomás Walter K. Laboratorio de Micronutrientes, Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos (INTA), Universidad de Chile. Rev. chil. nutr. v.30 n. 3 Santiago dic. 2003
Source

9. Informe del comité científico de la Agencia Española de la Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AESAN) sobre Ingestas Nutricionales de Referencia para la población española. Disponible online
Source

10. Liposomal-encapsulated Ascorbic Acid: Influence on Vitamin C Bioavailability and Capacity to Protect Against Ischemia–Reperfusion Injury. Janelle L. Davis, Hunter L. Paris, Joseph W. Beals, Scott E. Binns, Gregory R. Giordano, Rebecca L. Scalzo, Melani M. Schweder, Emek Blair and Christopher Bell. Journal ListNutr Metab Insightsv.9; 2016PMC4915787. Disponible online
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11. Liposomal antioxidants to protect against oxidant-induced damage. Zacharias E. Suntres. Division of Medical Sciences, Northern Ontario College of Medicine, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada. Disponible online
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12. Assessment of iron transport from ferrous glycinate liposomes using the Caco-2 cell model. Ding Baomiao, Yi Xiangzhou, Li Li and Yang Hualin. Afr Health Sci . 2017 Sep; 17 (3): 933–941. doi: 10.4314 / ahs.v17i3.37. Disponible online
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13. Dietary determinants and possible solutions to iron deficiency for young women living in industrialized countries: a review. Kathryn L. Beck, Cathryn A. Conlon, Rozanne Kruger y Jane Coad. Doi:
Source

14. Modeling tool to estimate dietary iron bioavailability in adults with sufficient iron. Susan J Fairweather-Tait , Amy Jennings, Linda J Harvey, Rachel Berry, Janette Walton, y Jack R Dainty. doi: 10.3945 / ajcn.116.147389. Disponible online
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15. El hierro en la alimentación Purificación Gómez-Álvarez Salinas. Licenciada en Farmacia. Vol. 18. Núm. 2. Páginas 54-57 (Febrero 2004). Disponible online
Source

Official Website
Iron deficiency anemia. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH).
Go to source
Scientific Article
Individualized treatment of iron deficiency anemia in adults. Michael Alleyne, MD, McDonald K. Horne, MD, and Jeffery L. Miller, MD. Disponible online
Go to source
Official Website
Iron deficiency anemia. Mayo Clinic. Disponible online
Go to source
Scientific Article
The central role of iron in human nutrition: from folk to contemporary medicine by Matteo Briguglio, Silvana Hrelia, Marco Malaguti, Giovanni Lombardi, Patrizia Riso, Marisa Porrini, Paolo Perazzo and Giuseppe Banfi. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061761. Disponible online
Go to source
Scientific Article
Iron deficiency: causes, consequences and strategies to overcome this nutritional problem. José R Boccio, Venkatesh Iyengar. DOI: 10.1385 / BTER: 94: 1: 1. Disponible online
Go to source
Human Study
Effects of iron deficiency on cognitive function in school-going adolescent women in rural central India. Sarika Más,V. B. Shivkumar, Nitin Gangane y Sumeet Shende.
Go to source
E-Book
Iron deficiency anemia. LibreTexts; Medicine. Disponible online
Go to source
Scientific Article
Consecuencias de la deficiencia de hierro. Manuel Olivares G, Tomás Walter K. Laboratorio de Micronutrientes, Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos (INTA), Universidad de Chile. Rev. chil. nutr. v.30 n. 3 Santiago dic. 2003
Go to source
Official Document
Informe del comité científico de la Agencia Española de la Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AESAN) sobre Ingestas Nutricionales de Referencia para la población española. Disponible online
Go to source
Scientific Article
Liposomal-encapsulated Ascorbic Acid: Influence on Vitamin C Bioavailability and Capacity to Protect Against Ischemia–Reperfusion Injury. Janelle L. Davis, Hunter L. Paris, Joseph W. Beals, Scott E. Binns, Gregory R. Giordano, Rebecca L. Scalzo, Melani M. Schweder, Emek Blair and Christopher Bell. Journal ListNutr Metab Insightsv.9; 2016PMC4915787. Disponible online
Go to source
Scientific Article
Liposomal antioxidants to protect against oxidant-induced damage. Zacharias E. Suntres. Division of Medical Sciences, Northern Ontario College of Medicine, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada. Disponible online
Go to source
Scientific Article
Assessment of iron transport from ferrous glycinate liposomes using the Caco-2 cell model. Ding Baomiao, Yi Xiangzhou, Li Li and Yang Hualin. Afr Health Sci . 2017 Sep; 17 (3): 933–941. doi: 10.4314 / ahs.v17i3.37. Disponible online
Go to source
Scientific Article
Dietary determinants and possible solutions to iron deficiency for young women living in industrialized countries: a review. Kathryn L. Beck, Cathryn A. Conlon, Rozanne Kruger y Jane Coad. Doi:
Go to source
Scientific Article
Modeling tool to estimate dietary iron bioavailability in adults with sufficient iron. Susan J Fairweather-Tait , Amy Jennings, Linda J Harvey, Rachel Berry, Janette Walton, y Jack R Dainty. doi: 10.3945 / ajcn.116.147389. Disponible online
Go to source
Scientific Article
El hierro en la alimentación Purificación Gómez-Álvarez Salinas. Licenciada en Farmacia. Vol. 18. Núm. 2. Páginas 54-57 (Febrero 2004). Disponible online
Go to source
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